This post contains frank discussion of Westworld Season 2, Episode 1 “Journey Into Night.” Consider this your first and last spoiler warning.
There was a lot to unpack from Westworlds Season 2 premiere and for most of that information you can check out our bigger rundown here. Alternatively, you can listen to the latest episode of Vanity Fairs new companion podcast, Still Watching: Westworld, where we break down that information-packed premiere.
But if there is one piece of information you should walk away from this premiere with its a clear understanding of what Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) discovered down in that lab with Charlotte (Tessa Thompson).
First of all, there are apparently a few “outposts” even Bernard doesnt know about. Maybe even Ford (Anthony Hopkins) didnt know about it. (Unlikely. Ford was pretty savvy.) This particular lab is manned by a “drone host”—a new concept this season that were learning about along with Bernard. Theyre not only creepy looking, theyre unregistered. In other words, Bernard and his team had no record of them.
Bernard observes the drones doing two very creepy things. First of all, theyre logging the memories of the hosts via the little mind eggs or black boxes we saw a tech extract in the field.
Those little balls record what the hosts see and, so, if you were a guest at Westworld and you raped and murdered and maimed a bunch of robots while you were there, Delos Incorporated now has (potentially incriminating footage) of you doing so. Bernard seems aghast that these encounters are being logged. Charlotte? Less so. Even more distressingly. . .the pube swab.
Bernard rightly surmises that the drones are collecting the DNA of the various guests who have visited and had sex with the various robots during their stay. Young William (Jimmi Simpson) and Logan (Ben Barnes) from Season 1, for example, would have left their DNA all over the place. Its unclear, however, when Delos started collecting this data.
Still, the potentially shady use of guest DNA has been something hardcore Westworld fans have been aware of ever since they discovered some language in the Delos Terms of Service contracts that HBO posted online back in Season 1. See if anything there sets off alarm bells for you:
By entering the Delos Destinations Port of Entry, you acknowledge that Delos, Inc. controls the rights to and remains the sole owner of, in perpetuity: all skin cells, bodily fluids, secretions, excretions, hair samples, saliva, sweat, blood, and any other bodily functions not listed here. Delos, Inc. reserves the right to use this property in any way, shape, or form in which the entity sees fit.
MISCELLANEOUS: These Terms cannot be changed or terminated orally. Any failure of Delos, Inc. to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Terms will not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. No waiver by Delos, Inc. of any provision of these Terms will be of any force or effect unless made in writing and signed by a duly authorized officer of Delos, Inc. Delos, Inc. may assign its rights and obligations under these Terms, in whole or in part, to any party at any time without any notice. Delos, Inc. reserves the right to deny access to all or part of the Service to you or any person in its sole discretion without notice or liability of any kind.
Thats right, Delos owns your DNA. Does that mean Delos can clone you? This is the future after all. Lets consider the most dystopian possibility. Delos has video of the worlds richest and most powerful humans doing something suspect. The metaphorical “Pee Tape,” if you will. That means, in theory, Delos could blackmail these rich and powerful people into doing, well, anything. And if that doesnt work well, heck, whats to stop Delos from using their DNA to clone them or build a robot version of them and replace them.
Does that all sound a bit paranoid? Maybe. But Westworld has been hinting at a nefarious corporate motive behind the parks pleasures ever since Episode 1. In a rooftop exchange in the pilot, the parks writer, Lee Sizemore (Simon Quarterman), and upper management Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) allude to Deloss bigger plans. Charlotte doubles down on that allusion in Episode 7 (a.k.a. the one where Theresa buys it), when she calls it “our little research project.”
In other words, simply providing a safe haven for the rich to fuck, shoot, and kill themselves into oblivion is not all Delos is up to. This is some real Cambridge Analytica nonsense. Now, vitally, Charlotte Hale is trying to get all that data out of the park before whatever Doomsday scenario Ford has kicked off has time to erase decades of hard-won blackmail material and/or code. She uploaded that info into a host effectively turning him into a walking hard drive. That host is Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum) a.k.a. Doloress malfunctioning dad.
Its fun to talk about Westworld using Jurassic Park terms because, of course, Michael Crichton wrote them both and the former was very much the blueprint for the latter. Just swap murderous cowboy bots for dinosaurs and youre in business. So, Jurassic Park fans, think of it this way: Peter Abernathy is the equivalent of Dennis Nedrys shaving cream can filled with dinosaur embryos and Charlotte was trying to smuggle him out of the park for safe keeping. Instead she metaphorically let him tumble down a waterfall. (This is still a Jurassic Park reference. Youve seen that movie, right? Its very good.)
When Charlottes accomplice Lee Sizemore went to find Abernathy in cold storage in order to get him on a train and smuggle him out of the park, he was out of luck. The glitching bot escaped with the rest of the naked, frozen bots.
Charlottes company wont come and rescue her until that data makes it to the mainland. So she and Bernard are going to be on the hunt for Abernathy who, if I had to guess, is on his way to Dolores.
I love it when a plan (and multiple plot lines) come together.
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